Kava and Kratom - A Deeper Look

A very common question that we hear asked is: What’s the difference between Kava and Kratom? For those who have never researched either plant, it’s understandable that the two can be confused for one another. However, upon further research, it’s evident that both Kava and Kratom have significant differences. We’ll start by identifying the similarities between them, and then we’ll break down what makes each plant unique. It’s incredibly important to be informed when purchasing these types of products, and we’re here to help with that!

What is Kava, Anyway?

Since we’ve already explored what Kratom is and where it originated from, it’s important to also know what Kava actually is before we compare the two!

Kava, also known as Piper Methysticum, is a plant that grows in the Pacific Islands (think Polynesia, Hawaii, & Vanuatu). It’s said to have originated in New Guinea, and eventually made its way to Hawaii. It thrives in a climate that produces a LOT of rainfall regularly. Fun fact: Kava is unable to grow in New Zealand, as it’s just way too cold for the plant to thrive!

The part of Kava that is actually harvested for tea & powder is the root of the plant! The roots are typically harvested after 4-5 years (4 is minimum, 5 is ideal). These roots are then traditionally ground up, and combined with water. Many Kava bars worldwide serve it in this drink-form. It’s appearance (and taste) is muddy! Not everyone loves the earthy flavor, but it’s less about the taste, more about the benefits that come with consumption. Kava extract is an alternative to the tea — Just a couple of drops in water will do the trick!

Similarities in Kava and Kratom

  • Preparation
    • Both plants can be crushed or ground to create a substance that’s combined with water to create a tea. 
    • Both Kava and Kratom can also be encapsulated
  • Chemical Compounds 
    • We know that Kratom contains mitragynine, which is an alkaloid compound that produces psychoactive alterations
    • Kava has an active chemical called Kavalactones – essentially, a series of lactone compounds that produce very similar psychoactive alterations
      • While each substance creates a similar experience, they are completely different compounds and should be handled accordingly.
      • Both could promote stimulant OR sedative effects, dependant on dosage
  • More Research is Needed!
    • The most critical similarity, in our opinion. While the FDA does not feel as strongly about Kava as they do Kratom, both plants have an incredibly long way to go in research and development. There is a lot of potential for these plants to serve a positive purpose around the world, and the only way that this can happen is if we continue to push for further studies and research.

Differences - What Makes Each Plant Unique

  • Origin
    • Kratom is part of the coffee family & native to Southeast Asia, while Kava is part of the pepper family & native to the Western Pacific. While Kratom leaves are what is crushed or ground to make the powder we sell today, Kava powder is made by crushing or grinding the root of the plant. It has a muddier appearance, whereas Kratom has a green, earthy look. 
  • Legality
    • As the FDA & DEA continue to pursue a ban on Kratom, Kava has simply been recognized as an herbal or dietary supplement and is 100% legal. The FDA has actually reviewed it’s safety in clinical studies, and they’ve gone so far as to recommend daily allowance guidelines, BUT they’ve also issued a warning stating that Kava could cause liver toxicity.
  • Pharmacology
    • While there’s been significantly more research conducted on Kava than Kratom, it’s been noted that the Kavalactones in Kava are not opiate agonists (as said to be observed in Kratom) and are responsible for positive effects. Kratom has a very unique chemical make-up, which historically has been used as a natural pain reliever. 

Research is Key

There are plenty of great resources and scientific studies available to further our understanding of both plants, and so we encourage you to invest time to get all of your questions answered before moving ahead with any purchases. We take health & safety seriously, and so should you!

If and when you’ve decided to purchase Kratom, be sure to browse our collection of top quality, lab tested products. While we do not currently offer Kava powder or Kava extract, we have a wide variety of Kratom powders & extracts for you to explore.

If you have any additional questions that our friendly & knowledgeable team can assist with, feel free to reach out to us here!